The effect of H2O on partial melting of garnet peridotite at 3.5 GPa

Travis J. Tenner, Marc M. Hirschmann, Munir Humayun

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We present experimental determinations of the influence of H2O on partial melting of garnet peridotite (+1.5, 2.5, and 5 wt. % added H 2O) at 3.5 GPa and 1200-1450C. Experiments produced complex polyphase regions of quenched melt and equilibrium partial melt compositions were reconstructed by combined EMP and LA-ICP-MS analyses. Mass balance-derived melt fractions (F) range from 0.18 to 0.33 and dissolved water contents range from 4.5 to 23.5 wt. %. One exceptional experiment quenched glass, allowing independent verification of H2O concentration by FTIR. The influence of H2O on melt production is quantified by the temperature difference required to achieve a given F under dry and wet conditions, T, which is controlled by the H2O concentration in partial melts. Melts with 1.5, 5, 10, and 15 wt. % H2O yield T values of 50, 150, 250, and 320C, respectively, consistent with a cryoscopic parameterization that assumes 3 oxygens per mole of silicate melt. Based on this parameterization, we calculate that beneath oceanic ridges, peridotite H2O storage capacity increases from 0 to 240 ppm from 66 to 110 km depth. For H2O to be solely responsible for melting in the oceanic low velocity zone (LVZ) at least 5.7 wt. % H2O must be dissolved in the melt at 110 km, and considerably more (e.g., 15 wt.% at 220 km) is required for melting throughout the entire observed interval. The addition of H2O results in 3.5 GPa partial melts of garnet peridotite (normalized anhydrous) that are SiO 2 and Al2O3 poor (43-50 and 9-11.5 wt. %, respectively), and MgO and CaO rich (18-27 and 7-12 wt. %, respectively) when compared to anhydrous analogues. These effects become highly pronounced deep in the upper mantle, and are opposite to the effect of H2O on melt compositions in the spinel stability field, potentially owing in part to OH - association with network modifying cations in high pressure, depolymerized melts and in part to low-temperature stabilization of garnet, which enhances CaO/Al2O3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ03016
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • experimental petrology
  • freezing point depression
  • hydrous garnet peridotite
  • melt fraction
  • partial melting

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